Utilizing Sport For Social
Change as Part of the
Capabilities Approach of
Muhammad Ali Center For Athletics
and Social Change Forum
Jeffrey F. Levine, J.D.
University of Louisville
ò International development and how it relates to
ò Intervention and application to development
ò Can capabilities approach partner with sports inventions
ò Effective interventions using sport-oriented capabilities
ò Goal to become vehicle for social change inside and
outside of sports
What is Development?
ò Development is “a process of expanding the real
freedoms that people enjoy” (Sen, 1999, pg. 5)
ò The process of removing different types of
“unfreedoms” that render individuals without a choice
ò Repressive states (Sen, 1999)
ò Objective of development is to expand people’s
ò In other words “expand people’s choices.” (Sen, 1999, pg.
The Capabilities Approach:
How Does it Relate?
ò It is the expansion of one’s “capabilities” to lead the kind of
live people value – and “ha[ve] reason to value.” (Sen, 1999)
ò Consists of “freedoms” and “functionings”
ò Political freedoms
ò Economic facilities
ò Social opportunities
ò Transparency guarantees
ò Protective security
ò Allows individuals to act as agents for social change (Dreze
& Sen 2002)
Athletes as Change Agents
ò Agency – the ability of people to help themselves and
also influence the world (Sen, 1999, pg. 18)
ò Agent – one who brings about change, judging those
achievements based on one’s values and objectives (Sen,
ò Athletes can be agents for social change.
ò Athletes are in a unique position – role models with power
ò Through the capabilities approach, athletes can couple
sport with a sustainable program to enact the social
change they seek
Interventions, Projects, and
ò Each one is an effort:
ò Intervention: Short-term, usually a few weeks
to less than 3 months
ò Project: time-bound efforts to carry out specific
set of activities
ò Program: Long-term efforts with multiple
ò (Barker, 2007)
Different Approaches to
ò Group education
ò Community outreach, mobilization & mass
Criticism of Interventions
ò General criticism:
ò Rarely do interventions go beyond the pilot stage or short-term
time frame (Barker, 2007)
ò Sport for development interventions:
ò Little research conducted on which programs work and or what
aspect make effective programs (Hartmann & Kwauk, 2013)
ò Sports-based programs not as effective as they could be…or
counterproductive (Hartmann & Kwauk, 2013)
ò Western sport interventions may extend neocolonialism
Sport For Development
ò Dominant Approach (Darnell, 2010; Kay & Bradbury,
ò Targeting at risk groups and/or marginalized
ò Sport is effective vehicle because it organically provides:
ò Life skills
ò Social knowledge and values
ò Leadership skills
ò Sport functions to socialize neocolonialism values
ò Participation through sport alone not enough to cause
social change (Coalter, 2006 &2010)
Sport For Development
ò Sport + Capabilities Approach?
ò Go above and beyond a “good” sports-based program
ò Sports intervention must contain an attempt to alter an
unfreedom and/or a functioning
ò Social change
ò Human rights focus?
ò Freedoms (Sen, 2005)
Initial Thoughts on Capabilities
Approach and Sports Programs
ò The Basics:
ò Sport is a good hook to recruit and retain participants
(Hartmann & Kwauk, 2013)
ò Must be about more about sports.
ò Sport-based interventions using the capabilities approach
ò Focus moving from unfreedom to freedom and/or a
ò Meaningfully connect sport to large social change goal
ò Connect/combine with other initiatives
ò Sport complements, does not dominate intervention
Some Discussion/Q & A
ò Are there best practices?
ò Strong vision and execution in social change goal
ò Multiple components (Lyras & Peachey, 2011)
ò Allocate appropriate funding for meaningful program
longevity and follow up
ò Any specific examples?
ò World Scholar-Athlete Games
ò (Lyras & Peachey, 2011)
Utilizing Sport For Social Change as Part of
the Capabilities Approach of Development
ò Alkire, S. (2005) Why the capability approach? Journal of Human Development
ò Alkire, S. (2011) The capability approach and human development.
Introduction to the capability approach. Oxford Poverty &Human Development
Initiative. Lecture conducted from Oxford University, Oxford, UK.
ò Dreze, J. & Sen, A. (2002) Development and participation. Oxford.
ò Lyras, A. & Peachey, J. (2011) Integrating sport-for-development theory and
praxis Sport Management Review 14 311-326.
ò Hartman, D. & Kwauk, C. (2013): Sport and development: An overview,
critique and reconstruction. Journal of Sport and Social Issues 35(3), 284-305.
ò Sen, A. (1999). Development as freedom. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
ò Sen, A. (2005). Human rights and capabilities. Journal of Human Development